Thursday, December 15, 2011

Down in Mexico

"And I'm thinking of you, down in Mexico
Feeling free as the air
Here I am, stuck in the city
Still goin' nowhere."

Oh, yeah! But I'm glad Caitlin and Ryan are having such a good time. Oh, those braids! Oh, that towel-turkey (or turkey-towel)!

GIve your harp a hug! Alisa Sadikova

Here's one that simply blew me away. There are plenty of YouTube videos of child prodigies performing, but this one tops them all. Harp is one of the most difficult instruments to play, not just for the multitude of strings but for expression: it doesn't produce vibrato or rubato or glissando or any of those other "o"s that make music vibrant and alive.

I suspect that all instruments are attempts to mimic the human voice, and this one seems static by comparison. So the artist has to rely on what's called "decay": the little fade-off at the end of each note or phrase which kind of blurs the individual tones together. (Musicologists, I know you're wincing at this! It's just the way I see it, or hear it.) It gives harp-notes that golden sound and richness, no doubt only attained through long practice. But how can you attain anything through long practice when you're only seven years old?!

Stories of musical prodigies always seem to end sadly. There are rare examples, such as Yehudi Menuhin, in which the child goes on to a long and brilliant career, but more often that promise is never fulfilled. The brilliance dims, the playing settles into something still better than average, but no longer at genius level.

It's hard to peak at seven, or ten, or twelve. A documentary was made years ago about such an artist, who eventually came to ruin. Trouble is, I can't remember his name, or the name of the film! Never mind, the internet will provide, but only if I keep hunting.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look